Salmonella prevalence continues to decline

Published on June 15, 2002
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The Department of Agriculture is crediting implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System with contributing to the reduction in the presence of Salmonella organisms in raw meat for the second consecutive year.

In a report released in April, the agency documents a reduction in the presence of Salmonella organisms in all categories of meat products since baselines studies were conducted prior to the implementation of PR/HACCP in 1998. The PR/HACCP program is a science-based inspection program that requires establishments to develop a plan to prevent hazards and reduce pathogens in products.

Combined test results for establishments of all sizes reveal a lower prevalence of Salmonella organisms in all categories of product since the implementation of PR/HACCP than in baseline studies: broilers averaged 10.7 percent in 1998-2001 compared with 20 percent in baseline studies; market hogs averaged 5.4 percent compared with 8.7 percent; cows and bulls averaged 2.2 percent compared with 2.7 percent; steers and heifers averaged 0.4 percent compared with 1.0 percent; ground beef averaged 3.4 percent compared with 7.5 percent; ground chicken averaged 15.7 percent compared with 44.6 percent; and ground turkey averaged 29.2 percent compared with 49.9 percent.

"HACCP has played a vital role in reducing pathogens," said Dr. Elsa Murano, undersecretary for food safety. "While the prevalence of Salmonella in meat and poultry products has declined, the USDA is continuously working to further reduce the prevalence of pathogens in meat and poultry and to improve food safety at each step of food production, from farm to table."

In another report released in April by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC partially credited PR/HACCP for a 23 percent reduction in the combined incidence in humans of seven foodborne bacterial pathogens from 1996 through 2001.